Under the Homelessness Reduction Act (2017), specified public bodies have a duty to refer at-risk households to a local authority housing team. This means a person’s housing situation must be considered whenever they come into contact with a wider public service, such as a hospital or GP practice.
Some services listed here target specific groups (for example: women, young people, those with mental-health issues), while, for others, the only referral criterion is that patients are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Everyone is eligible to register with a GP and receive primary care services free of charge. Regardless of a patient’s immigration status or if they are homeless, they have a right to register and it is not a contractual requirement to provide proof of address or identification. If a patient lives in the area and is homeless (e.g. rough sleeping, sofa surfing, etc.) they can be registered using the practice’s address.
Practices are encouraged to become a Safe Surgery. The safe surgery initiative supports GP practices to tackle the barriers to healthcare faced by people in vulnerable circumstances, especially migrants, refugees, people seeking sanctuary and homeless people. It is a simple process to sign up and the requirement from practices is minimal, simply a commitment to ensure that anyone seeking to register is welcomed without the requirement to provide documentation.
The toolkit is designed to help primary care staff support patients living in vulnerable circumstances realise their right to healthcare, get the most out of their General Practice, and access the information they need to keep safe in a COVID-19 context. The support toolkit is made up of seven very simple steps.
By becoming a Safe Surgery you are showing your patients and community your commitment to equity of access for all.
The initiative will also support the CQC requirement to support and provide care for different groups of people.
London Borough of Islington’s priority is to help people avoid becoming homeless. The council housing team can do this by negotiating with the people your patients live with or their landlord, giving advice, or by helping them to find another home quickly. To refer someone to Islington Council for support with housing
t: 020 7527 6371
w: London Borough of Islington Homelessness website
Integrated Network (MDT discussion): If you are concerned about a complex patient who is homeless then please refer to the INC team for MDT discussion through usual routes or contact Ayse Cinko